UCC Explains Ban on SIM Card Vending; Orders Recall Of Cards In Stock
16 March 2018
Uganda Communications Commission has come out to explain the tough regulations it imposed on Telecommunication Companies in the country, in the quest to stamp out the loopholes being exploited by criminals.
Among the measures announced this week, the Regulator banned the sale of SIM cards through hawkers, street vendors or agents; and any other establishment that aren’t licensed by the Kampala Capital City Authority or other municipal town authorities.
The Commission also ordered the Telecoms to recall all SIM cards that are held in stock by these street vendors and agents.
Speaking to the press at the Commission offices in Bugolobi this morning, UCC Executive Director Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi said the new guidelines will be prioritized more than any other person’s convenience.
Responding to concerns that the ban on sim card selling could affect people, whose lives have been depending on the business, Mutabaazi noted; “SIM cards are not important than people’s lives. This business is causing deaths. We must first consider the lives before we consider the lines.”
He added, “Uganda is the only country on this planet that allows SIM cards to be sold by vendors. You don’t see this in other counties.”
UCC is currently under instruction from the Ministry of Information and ICT to investigate Telecom Companies that might have provided loopholes exploited by criminals in the recent spate of murders and kidnaps.
Under the new guidelines that telecoms have already started implementing, the companies are required to acquire and install card readers at all their service centres that will be used to validate the information on National I.Ds of people coming to register for new SIM cards.
The Commission now requires anybody registering for a new sim card or replacing one to come with his or her original national ID.
The installed card readers will be able to instantly verify the ID information against the national database maintained by the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA), which is hosted by UCC.
The Telecom operators have also been ordered to immediately recall and deactivate all pre-activated and or pre-registered SIM cards that are currently in stock.
Meanwhile for people whose ID information might have been used to register other SIM cards, these will be able to find out about these lines using the short code 197.
Mutabazi further announced that all Telecom operators will forthwith be liable for any violation of Commission directives by their staff of agents whether such violation is by omission, commission or otherwise. As of yesterday, the major telecom companies had already started on implementation of these guidelines.
MTN for instance, announced a temporary stop on the sale of new SIM cards, as it puts in place the requirements set by the Commission.